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Alcohol

In chemical terminology, alcohols are a large group of organic compounds " derived from hydrocarbons and containing one or more hydroxyl (-OH) groups. Ethanol (C2H5OH, ethyl alcohol) is one of this class of compounds, and is the main psychoactive ingredient in alcoholic beverages. By extension the term "alcohol" is also used to refer to alcoholic beverages. Ethanol results from the fermentation of sugar by yeast. Under usual conditions, beverages produced by fermentation have an alcohol concentration of no more than 14%. In the production of spirits by distillation, ethanol is boiled out of the fermented mixture and re-collected as an almost pure condensate. Apart from its use for human consumption, ethanol is used as a fuel, as a solvent, and in chemical manufacturing.

Absolute alcohol (anhydrous ethanol) refers to ethanol containing not more than 1% by mass of water. In statistics on alcohol production or consumption, absolute alcohol refers to the alcohol content (as 100% ethanol) '80s, of alcoholic beverages. Methanol (CH3 OH), also known as methyl alcohol and wood alcohol is chemically the simplest of the alcohols. It is used as an industrial solvent and also as an adulterant to denature ethanol and make it unfit to drink (methylated spirits). Methanol is highly toxic; depending on the amount consumed, it may produce blurring of vision, blindness, coma, and death.

Other non-beverage alcohols that are occasionally consumed, with potentially harmful effects, are isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol, often in rubbing alcohol) and ethylene glycol (used as antifreeze for automobiles). Alcohol is a sedative/hypnotic with effects similar to those of barbiturates. Apart from social effects of use, alcohol intoxication may result in poisoning or even death; long-term heavy use may result in dependence or in a wide variety y of physical and organic mental disorders. Alcohol-related mental and behavioural disorders (f10) are classified as psychoactive substance use disorders in ICD-10 (f10-f19).

WHO Lexicon of alcohol and drug terms